ASI Taulava lived up to his role as a big brother as he stood up for Bill Walker right after the import’s commotion against David Semerad in the NLEX-San Miguel Beer game in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday.
Seeing Semerad hit the Road Warriors import in the third quarter, the ageless slotman, the oldest player in the league at 43, bumped the chest of the sophomore SMB big man before attempting a slap that nearly reached Semerad’s face.
“I got to defend my money man,” Taulava said of Walker. “I can’t let him get hurt and let anybody bully him or try to get under his skin. Me and Rico (Villaneuva) told him that If anybody tries to hit him, don’t get into a technical because we need him in the game.”
“That’s our job: to bully the other guys who try to bully him,” the stocky 6-foot-9 cager added.
Taulava and Semerad were each called for a technical foul after the incident.
“Sometimes it comes with a tech, but I thought for sure I was going to get ejected,” Taulava admitted. “I tried to go over and push him away and ended up slapping him. Thank, God, my hand was open.”
“It's part of the game,” he added. “But I'm sure he doesn't want to take it farther than that. I'm a nice guy but I just gotta defend my teammates. I gotta be big brother to everybody else.”
Semerad politely declined to grant an interview after the game.
Taulava said he doesn’t care to get a technical as long as it’s in the defense of a teammate.
“I've always been overprotective of my teammates,” the veteran slotman said. “That brings out the best of my teammates, they know we got guys like me and Rico behind them, he will play hard and he will know guys will be there for him.”
“Not just Henry, that's Gabo (Lanete), Kevin (Alas), all the younger guys we have on our team,” he added. “We wanna build a culture here at NLEX and we wanna go, 'cause we got great pieces. This is all about putting them together.”